July 18, 2016

Find Your Park. Mine is Denali!

Filed under: Interesting Things,Roadtrips,Wildlife — Susan Stevenson @ 12:50 pm

**Warning – Photo heavy!**

My friend Joyce and I began talking about a week-long camping trip in Denali National Park, back when snow still covered the ground, the northern lights were dancing above, and a parka was the outerwear of choice.  When she made the reservation early this year, June seemed so far in the future. And then suddenly, it was less than a month out and Joyce was taking advantage of the warm weather and working hard to get her vintage 1973 Winnebago Brave ready to be off-grid for a week.

Cloudy Skies Parks Highway
We left Fairbanks on Sunday, June 26th under cloudy skies and intermittent rain. We were both very excited about spending a week at Teklanika Campground, 29 miles inside the park. The RV was crammed with our stuff as we drove, but we knew that once we had camp set up, we’d Tetris our bags, bins, and boxes so they’d be out of the way. Attached to the back hitch were our bikes. We had plans to pedal some of the park road. (Let me just say that my bike was less than 3 days old. I rode it TWICE – pedaling around my house the day before we left. And the last time I pedaled a bike was 14 years ago, when we lived in Florida. I don’t know what possessed me to consider riding a bike from Sable Pass (mile 39) back to the campground (mile 29). Temporary insanity, I believe!

We got a much later start than we planned on, due to last minute repairs/adjustments to some of the systems in Joyce’s RV, and the drive was rather uneventful until we neared the park entrance. Less than a half mile from the entrance, cars lined both sides of the Parks Highway – and for good reason; the orphaned moose twins were grazing on the shoulder.

Moose calf orphans outside of Denali National Park

One of the moose calf orphans outside of Denali National Park

One of the moose calf orphans outside of Denali National Park

The babies were only a few weeks old when their mother was killed illegally within the park. It’s a miracle they survived without her, and they became quite the attraction along the highway over the last few weeks.  We slowed as we neared the traffic congestion, and then pulled off the road for a few minutes so I could snap a couple of photos.  We were both worried as we pulled away – fearing it wouldn’t be long before they were hit by a passing vehicle.(Good news: The calves were first thought to have been adopted by a cow moose with one calf of her own, but were just recently captured and transferred to the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center near Portage where they will be safe and cared for. Hopefully they can be released back into the wild in time.)

Because we were late getting to the park, we had to check in at the Riley Creek Mercantile rather than the Wilderness Access Center. The mercantile was bustling as Reilly Creek Campground is the only campground in the park where you can shower, have access to a wifi hotspot, do laundry, and purchase a limited selection of supplies, food, and gifts. The coffee counter in the corner is a nice touch when you want something a little fancier than campground percolator coffee.

We came to a road barrier at the Mountain Vista rest area (mile 12.5 on the park road). We were aware that there were some problems with an aggressive grizzly bear in the Savage River area, and knew to expect road closures. It’s a shame that visitors to the park can’t get all the way to Savage River and walk the trail. It’s a beautiful hike, but with several bear encounters already this summer, I totally understand why the park service is keeping people out of that area. Hopefully they’ll be able to open the area up again soon.

Joyce in front of her RV, Teklanika Campsite, Denali ParkIt was sprinkling rain on and off, as we set up our campsite. Joyce’s Winnebago is a work in progress and labor of love. She just did repairs to the leaking roof. But since we were camping for a week, and we didn’t want to test the roof under those circumstances, she brought along a large tarp to drape over the camper and the screen house, creating a covered area just outside the door. I’m sure some would deem it a little “red-necky” in appearance, but we were dry, we were warm, and we were comfortable. And we were spending the next week in Denali Park! We were two lucky gals.

Here are a few more photos taken on our drive to the campground. Of course we had to get Joyce’s cool RV in front of the park sign too.  We also encountered a cow moose along the park road, but she was hidden rather well in the bushes. I took a photo of the roadblock a few miles before Savage River (mile 15). I do believe the area is still closed to the public.

Joyce and her 1973 Winnebago Brave at the Denali Park entrance Browsing cow moose along the park road Road Closed due to bear attack

MONDAY – Kantishna Shuttle Bus Trip

When you stay at Teklanika Campground, you are required to stay for at least three days. This cuts down on the road traffic in the park, and also allows a camp guest to truly enjoy this part of the park. RVs are welcome, but there are no hookups. There is potable water on site, food storage lockers (especially for tenters), and very clean outhouses. Generators are allowed but only during certain hours each morning and each evening. Quiet hours are enforced. Pets are permitted but they ask that you not leave them unattended in your rig. (We leave Raven unattended, as we know that she is quiet, but some dogs bark the entire time – which can certainly annoy other campers).

This was my first experience staying at Teklanika Campground, and I thought it was wonderful. I would definitely stay here again. The campground does book up quickly, so early reservations are recommended. Also, the sites are first come, first served so the later you arrive, the less sites you have to choose from. We didn’t get the site we hoped for due to our late arrival, but we were pleased with the one we ended up with, as it was directly across from the outhouses and water faucet.

Joyce booked us on the Monday morning Kantishna shuttle bus when she made camp reservations. I have been out to Kantishna several times – during road lottery weekend – but have never taken the shuttle out there during the summer season. Joyce had never been past Eielson Visitor Center, and was looking forward to seeing the entire park road. When we woke to no rain and pockets of blue sky between the clouds, we knew it was going to be a great day. Although it did sprinkle on us a few times throughout the day, we had a fantastic time.

We saw large herds of caribou, bears, ground squirrels, moose, wildflowers, and of course the always beautiful scenery.

Dall Sheep above the Igloo Forest - mp 35 or so Polychrome Pass Pano Polychrome Colors
Joyce at Polychrome Pass Polychrome Pass distant Glacier Bull moose resting
Toklat River, mile 53 on the park road Joyce at the Toklat River, Denali Park Grizzly Bear along the park road
Monkshood - toxic! Pink Plumes, Denali Park Arctic Ground Squirrel, Denali Park
Arctic Ground Squirrel Eielson Visitor Center Pano - Very overcast Harebell, Denali Park
Eielson Visitor Center gorgeous view Young bull moose at cliff's edge - wrong way! Cow moose and bull moose hanging out together - not very common outside the rut season
Caribou along the Park Rd Bald eagle - also not regularly seen in the park as there are no fish. This one was watching a caribou gut pile. More sheep on the way back.

Joyce took this photo of me at the end of the park road. A little bit of the drowned rat look, but happy to be in the park.

Me at the end of the Denali Park Rd

One of the more interesting sights was that of a caribou kill high on a hillside off in the distance. According to the bus driver, the caribou was killed by wolves, but when the wolves left the carcass unattended a nearby grizzly moved in and claimed it. That grizzly literally slept next to the remains, guarding and eating it at his leisure. We watched the meat pile grow smaller and smaller each day, until finally all that remained was a dark brown blood stain on the hillside and the antlers.

These photos show where the caribou lay. The first photo was taken on the morning of our bus ride. The second photo was taken later that afternoon on the way back (under cloudy skies). And the third photo was taken just two days later. Nature can be sad and violent, but everyone has to eat.

Caribou Kill and Grizzly guarding it - June 27th, morning Grizzly napping next to caribou kill site and carcass - June 27th, evening Caribou Kill remains, with Bald Eagle flying off - June 29th

TUESDAY – “Let’s practice on the bikes”, she said. “It’s mostly downhill.”

Since we had such a long day on Monday, we decided to sleep in (nearly 10am!) and then go for a bike ride back toward the Sanctuary River – which is in the direction of the entrance.  There’s a horseshoe pull out along the road and that was our goal. It’s about 3 miles from Tek campground. Six miles sounded doable, even for a newbie.

If you ever want a glaring reminder of just how out of shape you are… pedal a bike for several miles after not being on one for 13 years. You’ll be working muscles you forgot you even owned, and you will also come home with bruises in places you’ve never seen them before. Why are the seats so darn uncomfortable? I even replaced the factory installed seat for the old seat I used in FL (much larger and more gel padding) and still my “sit bones” were screaming in agony by the end of the ride. (It doesn’t hurt as much now that I’m more used to my bike, thank goodness).

The sun was shining which was a major plus. And the ride to the horseshoe pullout was about even with the uphill and downhill stretches. I have to admit I walked a few of those uphill stretches, and they weren’t even steep! Yes… I was seriously out of shape.

When we got to the pull out, what did we see just next to the road? Bear scat. It was old scat and dried out, but you can believe we did some serious scanning of the landscape with our zoom lenses.

We hung out there for a little while, snacking on trail mix and hydrating, before pedaling back to the campground. When we reached the camp entrance, Joyce suggested we keep going (uphill) to the Teklanika overlook – a mile past the campground. I did my best, but there was definitely some walking involved. The best part of all was the return trip – all downhill! I think we tallied this ride at 6.5 miles.

I shot this pano from the pull-out, facing into the park:
Denali Park Road Pano around mile 26

Here are a few more photos from that ride. Several were taken by Joyce. I carried my camera with me, but didn’t take as many photos as I thought I would. I was more concerned about staying upright on my bike.

View from the park road looking out to the mountains and the river View of the park road looking toward Sanctuary Me at the pull out. Photo copyright Joyce Young
Joyce and her bike, Denali Park Rd Joyce peddling up to Teklanika Rest Stop Me at Teklanika overlook. Photo copyright Joyce Young

After returning to camp – nice and sweaty, mind you – we decided it would be a good time to try to get the outdoor shower up and functional. We had pretty grand ideas about our bathing set-up, as Joyce had purchased an on-demand hot water heater, and we planned to mount it to the outside of the RV. Our shower stall would be a re-purposed hula hoop with a shower curtain hanging from it (an idea I came up with when I was half asleep). When the hot water heater didn’t work out, we decided to go with the original plan and use a camp shower (a bag with sun-warmed water in it) to rinse.

Except the sun wasn’t exactly the warmest and the water didn’t heat up much.  Boy, was I thankful that Joyce was going to be the first one to try out the setup!

Makeshift showerThe way we had the screen house set up (with the privacy drapes), we could use the shower, wrap a big bath towel around ourselves, and then walk about 8 feet to the zipper door of the screen house, where we could dress. The shower was located at the rear of the camper, and even though we had people camping behind us, the bushes were thick enough to block most of the view.  And we’d be covered with a towel anyway.

I waited in the RV, to give Joyce some privacy, and from where I was sitting, I could see the top of the hula hoop out the back window. I saw the curtain hangers move along the hoop as Joyce stepped into the “shower”.

It wasn’t long before the first squeals of frigid cold pain came bursting in through the back window. I could only imagine being doused with icy water. With each yelp, my teeth clenched. No way was I was going to shower that night! Thank goodness for baby wipes!

We took turns cooking up dinner, as our diets are completely different. Joyce is vegan, and enjoys fruits and vegetables much more than I do. She has a couple of food allergies too, but she always has a wide selection of (healthy) food to choose from. I’m a rather picky eater who doesn’t like to cook much, so my choices for camp food are easy to prepare, and qualify as comfort food in most cases.

We made up the beds, lowering the table to make my bed, and extending the sofa to make Joyce’s bed.  Before turning in for the night, we decided to take a walk along the Teklanika River. The river is just next to the campground, with several sites having the river within steps. It was a nice relaxing way to end the day. Others had the same idea, as the late evening sunshine painted gold light on the surrounding mountains.

Teklanika River Pano - evening stroll

Within an hour of making this pano, the bottom fell out of the sky – just over our campground, it seemed. The rain fell rather steady for about 30 minutes, but such a strange thing to see, as the sky all the way around us was blue with white fluffy clouds. And then the sun broke through the big rain cloud above, and my first thought was “Rainbow?”. The conditions were perfect.

I stepped outside, and there it was! A beautiful rainbow stretched across the sky. It soon turned into a double rainbow, although the top rainbow wasn’t as pronounced. The perfect way to end the day…

Double Rainbow over the campground

Double Rainbow over the campground

WEDNESDAY – “Cool wind in my hair…”

If you’re camping at Teklanika, the Tek Pass is a huge bargain! For $32/pp, you can board any green shuttle bus that goes by (space available). You can only go into the park, and not back to the entrance (unless you want to pay for a shuttle ride back to camp). There’s really no need to go back to the entrance unless you are planning to grab a bite to eat, or use the facilities at Riley Creek Campground (showers, etc). Besides, the miles after Teklanika are not only gorgeous, but offer many more opportunities for spotting wildlife than the first 30 miles.

Joyce and I didn’t want to do the bike ride down from Sable Pass in the rain. We were worried it would be slippery with muddy roads. So when we woke that morning and it looked like rain, we decided to take a shuttle bus back out to Wonder Lake with the hope of seeing Denali. If the mountain was out, we planned to walk to Reflection Pond to create our versions of Ansel Adams’ iconic photograph. If the mountain wasn’t out, we’d just enjoy the bus ride. We had two more days to make the bike ride happen.

We boarded the 8:55am bus. As we drove further into the park, the clouds cleared and the sun broke through.

By the time we reached Eielson Visitor Center, we decided to take advantage of the improved weather and do the bike ride. So, instead of staying on our original bus, we boarded a bus back to the park entrance. We jumped off at the campground, grabbed our bikes, lightened the load in our backpacks, and were back at the shuttle stop in less than an hour, where we caught another bus out to Eielson Visitor Center. (The buses have the capability to hold two bikes on the front of them). We let the driver know we were getting off at Sable Pass.

These photos were taken on our morning bus ride out to Eielson Visitor Center:

Denali Park Road Denali Park Road view Kettle Pond, Denali Park
Denali Park Road Denali Park visitors Polychrome Overlook
Toklat River Pano Toklat River Pano Wildflowers on a hillside
If the mountain was out, we'd see the beautiful Denali at the end of the road. View from Eielson Visitor Center Grizzly Bear
Two bears graze in the same area. Fluffy Grizzly Park Road heading back to camp to get our bikes.

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“A mind that is stretched by a new experience,
can never go back to its old dimensions.” 

~ Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. ~

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I was mentally preparing myself for the ride down down from Sable Pass, as I lightened my backpack, and swapped out gear. At times, my stomach knotted up with anxiety. Every now and then, my hands trembled. At the same time I was super excited about stepping outside my comfort zone and doing something I’ve never done before.

I’m not an adrenaline junkie by any means. And there are some things I will NEVER do (just about anything involving heights). My fear of heights is not just vertigo-inducing, but also paralyzing. No amount of money could incite me to jump out of an airplane, or bungee jump, or free fall.

I am also not of fan of water over my head, but can tolerate a swimming pool (where I can see the bottom). A couple of years ago, I went sea kayaking for the first time in my life, in Kachemak Bay (Homer). It was a two-person kayak, which I insisted on, that I paddled with Steve. I was petrified, but eventually learned to relax and balance myself as I paddled. Steve was a novice too, but I felt more secure with him in the same boat. I honestly don’t know if I’d sea kayak again (the waves made me nervous), even though it was very enjoyable. But I am proud of myself for trying something new, despite my fear.

That’s similar to how I felt about this bike ride down from Sable Pass. I was apprehensive about several things – the biggest being losing control of my bike and badly injuring myself. I was worried about encountering a bear along the way (I’ve seen bears along the road in that stretch, and the Sable Pass area is restricted because of bears). And, because of my fear of heights, I really stressed out about riding over the steep embankments or off a cliff (because of my inexperience).

But none of that happened. In fact, the ride was everything BUT scary. It was exhilarating! It was amazing! It was adrenaline-pumping, and I felt like I was flying! Even now, as I recall those feelings, I can feel my heart beating faster with the memory. I am proud of myself for doing something outside my comfort zone.

Joyce and I stopped a couple of times to snap photos, and also chose to walk our bikes up the road between the Teklanika Bridge and the Teklanika Overlook, as it’s rather steep. (We were given the name “Downhill Dames” by fellow shuttle passengers as it was no secret that we didn’t like uphill anything!) Despite the stops, and walking a short portion of the road, it took us less than an hour to go a full 10 miles! I rode my brakes hard, and was still going very fast. All I can say is WOW! This is definitely a ride I would do again!

Sable Pass to Teklanika Campground Bike Ride:

Me at the Teklanika Shuttle Stop before the ride Joyce in the bus mirror as we drive up to Sable Pass. Vegas friends are behind her Snapped by Vegas friends *just in case they needed to hang posters if we got lost* (said in jest, of course)
Joyce at the Sable Pass drop-off Buses pass us as we prepare for our ride Me ready to go at Sable Pass
Along the Park Road near Igloo Forest. I saw a bear here last September! My Bike on the Park Road Me at Teklanika Bridge - 9 miles later

One of the shuttle bus drivers referred to this pond near Teklanika as “no moose pond”, so that’s what I will call it from now on. It is a beautiful pond, and I’ve always envisioned a big bull moose in the center. Perhaps someday I will be able to rename it “moose pond”.

No Moose Pond pano with bikes, end of ride

A very nice place to park your bike!

No Moose Pond with my bike, end of ride.

THURSDAY – The mountains are calling, and I must go ~ John Muir

Joyce and I took the bus back out to Eielson on Thursday. We certainly made good use of our Tek passes this week. On this trip, we saw a grizzly sow with twins. She was off in the distance, but there was no missing the adorable dark-furred spring cubs as they bounded up the hillside behind mama. Spring cubs have distinct white or cream colored fur collars around their neck. Typically these markings are lost by 2 years of age. A grizzly sow will keep her cubs with her for 2-3 years, but unfortunately half don’t survive their first year. (Illness, injury, and predation – even by male bears – being the primary causes of death)

Grizzly sow and twin cubs

*Michael J* Fox near the Eielson Visitor Center in Denali ParkThe scenery and wildlife sightings were wonderful as always. We also saw two fox on this trip, and one ran along the road next to the bus with us. The bus driver called him “Michael J” – a name he is known by to several members of the park service. He is a cross-fox, which is a variation of a red fox. Cross fox have a long dark stripe running down their back, intersecting another stripe to form a cross over the shoulders.  Although he was drenched from the rain, I was excited for the opportunity to photograph him – especially when he stopped for a few seconds and gave us his profile.

The ride back to the campground was rather quiet. The wildlife was mostly at a distance and people were tired. I only took a handful of photographs. Instead I enjoyed the scenery and chatted with other riders.

Raven in Denali Park Park Road Scenery Polychrome *Happy Face*
Joyce taking photos Caribou in Pond Park Scenery
Caribou Caribou crossing the road Bull Caribou
Caribou on ridge Polychrome Pano Caribou Herd
Bear in distance. Caribou far left of photo Bear and Caribou Close up, Polychrome colors
Caribou Nursery Herd Ptarmigan Grizzly Bear

Stormy skies lay ahead as we made our way back. What a contrast in light and color!

Park Road and Cliffs

The rain continued all the way back to the RV. We had dinner, washed down with an adult beverage, got ready for bed, and talked until we grew weary. Snuggled into my sleeping bag, I read less than a page on my tablet before my eyes closed and I dropped it on my chest. Fresh air is such a wonderful sleep tonic!

We only had one more day in the park. We planned to ride our bikes to Igloo Campground (about 10 miles round trip from Tek), and then take the late bus out to Eielson.

FRIDAY –  I’m (not) Singin’ in the Rain

I was awake early on Friday, and did a little reading after getting the coffee pot started. The sound of the rain hitting the tarp was very soothing, and my warm little cocoon was very comfortable. I saw no reason to jump out of bed, and Joyce was still sleeping anyway. But, as nature would have it, the rain tapered off and then stopped, and far off in the distance there were tiny bits of blue showing through the ominous gray clouds in the sky. The ride to Igloo Campground was on again.

We assumed (not a good thing to do) that the morning would be much like some of the other mornings – start with some rain, taper off to drizzling or just spitting, and then sunshine in the afternoon. So, instead of wearing our rain gear, we carried it – not really concerned about getting a little damp. (It wasn’t a cold rain, fortunately)

By the time we reached Tek Overlook, we knew it was time to put on our rain tops at the very least. By the time we made it across the Teklanika Bridge, our pants were soaked.  Needless to say we didn’t make it to Igloo Campground (mile 34), but I do think we pedaled between 6 and 6.5 miles. In the rain.

Me, Riding in the Rain, Denali Park Joyce and Bikes A little drowned, but still enjoyed the ride!

The Teklanika River swelled with all the rain, and ran fast and muddy. Many of the braided sandbars disappeared below.
Teklanika River after the rain.

Later that day…

Susan and Joyce, 2016 DenaliWe chose to ride a late bus, as campground friends told us that it wasn’t usually crowded, and that they always had good luck with wildlife sightings on the late bus. We took their advice and ran into them at the bus stop.  And they were right; we really enjoyed going later in the day. (Catching the 3:10pm out of the Tek Campground, gets you back to camp by 10pm)

While we waited for the bus to arrive, I did a little “pebble graffiti” of my and Joyce’s name on the bench. I usually write names and dates in the sand if we are in a sandy or beach area, but since we didn’t have sand, I had to improvise. Our shuttle bus friends (who hailed from Las Vegas, and were no strangers to Denali Park), were kind enough to take a photo of us with my “art”.

The late afternoon hours made for gorgeous light, shadows and color.

Kettle Pond and Mountains Mountaintop Glacier Toklat Rest Stop Pano
Denali Park Road Mountain Close Up Mountains at Eielson Visito Center
Flag flying at Eielson Visitor Center Park Road Map at Eielson Caribou Antlers at Denali
Caribou Herd and Mountains Caribou Herd Caribou Herd Pano

And then, on the way back, the great Denali finally gave us a glimpse of her majestic peak. It was our first view all week, and a great way to end our stay in the park. I love that the caribou are in this photo too:

Denali above the clouds, and caribou herd.

SATURDAY – Heading home

Packing up the RV was a lot faster than setting up camp, but it always seems to be that way. Fortunately, we woke to sunshine, so we didn’t have to take down camp in the rain. We drove slowly, scanning the landscape for wildlife. We saw this beautiful cow moose in the first few miles of the park road.

It was such a fantastic trip, and I’m so thankful that Joyce asked me to go along. What a beautiful place we live in! Cow moose in Denali Park

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It has been really warm in Interior Alaska, and I believe we broke some records. While the official temperature reading at the airport was showing temps in the high 80s last week, many people around town (including us), saw temps in the 90s registering on our thermometers. We finally broke down and set up the room size air conditioner in the bedroom so we could sleep comfortably, just as the rain came and things cooled down.

I have been taking photos here and there throughout the summer, and will blog about the everyday things when I can.  It’s not a top priority for me, as I leave for Wisconsin in 12 days, and have a lot of things to take care, since I will be gone until September.

It’s so hard to believe that Juliet’s due date is less than a month away now. I remember when my son and daughter-in-love told us about the baby… it felt so far away. And now it’s almost here! I can’t wait to meet her!

Enjoy the rest of the summer (winter, if you read me from the Southern Hemisphere), and I’ll try to blog again before I leave. At the very least expect an announcement when my beautiful granddaughter arrives.

Until next time…

14 Comments »

  1. The picture where Denali finally came out was just great – the mountains in the foreground look big until you see Denali! Great post and excellent pictures.

    [Reply]

    Susan Stevenson Reply:

    Thank you very much, Larry! That was such a fantastic moment, as we weren’t able to see Denali at all that entire week. We did hear that the mountain was visible from the first 10 miles on a couple of occasions, but at 30 miles into the park, the clouds were just too thick above us. When I saw it pop out high in the clouds, I was mesmerized! She is HUGE!!!

    Thanks again, Larry!

    P.S. I became a grandma today!!! 2:08pm… Juliet Rose. 😀

    [Reply]

    Comment by Larry K — July 18, 2016 @ 8:27 pm

  2. What a fantastic week. You saw so much and your photos are gorgeous. Brought back good memories of our trip there. Makes me think of doing it again. Hae a wonderful time in Wisconsin. Love Stan.

    [Reply]

    Susan Stevenson Reply:

    Thank you for reading and commenting Stan. I appreciate it, as it’s such a long blog entry.

    We had such a wonderful trip. It was nice to get away with a girlfriend, doing stuff I’ve never done before at a slower pace. I look forward to doing it again sometime with Steve. I think he would enjoy that bike ride too. 😀

    [Reply]

    Comment by Stan Pierce — July 18, 2016 @ 8:28 pm

  3. What a great week you had! I love the Caribou Antlers (photo) and Fuzzy Grizzly! You’ve had a pretty great Spring/Summer so far and now we wait for Juliet! I know how excited you are.

    [Reply]

    Susan Stevenson Reply:

    Thank you Connie. I’m glad you enjoyed the blog entry.

    And if you didn’t see… Juliet was born today!!! 2:08pm!!!

    I can’t wait to meet her on Sunday!

    [Reply]

    Comment by Connie — July 19, 2016 @ 12:40 pm

  4. FABULOUS!!! I enjoyed this virtual trip to Mt. McKinley. You are a much more dedicated adventurer than me … the bike ride sounded scary enough but the thought of brownies coming from out of nowhere had me anxiety-ridden just reading it. LOVE LOVE LOVE the Image 3 of “Happy Face”.

    Great images, all of them. However, I especially enjoyed the caribou herds. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen that many at once. What a capture. And, the cross fox. A bonus, right?

    Where are you going next?

    Susan

    [Reply]

    Susan Stevenson Reply:

    THank you for reading and commenting, Susan. I appreciate it, as it was such a long blog entry.

    The week in Denali was absolutely amazing! The bike ride was so empowering! I was a little worried about bears initially, but once we started downhill I felt much better. We also made a lot of noise (singing, yelling, etc) so they definitely knew we were coming.

    I am heading to Madison, WI on Saturday. I think you’ve already seen on FB that Juliet arrived early – TODAY! 2:08pm I was supposed to be in the delivery room, so I’m disappointed about that, but at the same time I am so thrilled that my granddaughter is here!!! I can’t wait to meet her and see my son and daughter-in-love. <3

    [Reply]

    Comment by Susan Arthur — July 19, 2016 @ 12:44 pm

  5. Susan, as usual you had us in your back pocket thru this amazing adventure! Thank you so much for taking us along..
    Good luck for Juliet and her soon to be…waiting for the announcement! Be safe on your journey, and extended visit!

    [Reply]

    Susan Stevenson Reply:

    Hi Mary Ann, and thank you for reading this rather long blog entry. I’m happy you enjoyed coming along on my adventure. I had such a wonderful time with my friend Joyce, and it was such a wonderful experience to stay in the park for a week.

    I can’t wait to get to WI and be there when Juliet arrives! I am so beyond excited! 🙂 Take care!

    [Reply]

    Comment by Mary Ann Steen — July 19, 2016 @ 1:52 pm

  6. Wow what a great time you had. Looks like you got a lot in for such a short time. Makes me want to come back even more. Might be a couple more years but its deffently a plan to do some day. Loved all the pics keep it up and have a good time in Wisconsin. We are going up to gransburg wis in about 4 weeks to see some friends. Untill the next post stay safe.

    [Reply]

    Susan Stevenson Reply:

    Hi Bruce and thanks for reading and commenting! Juliet was born today!!!!

    I had a marvelous time in Denali Park with my friend Joyce, and I hope that I can do it again soon with Steve. It was so nice to be 30 miles into the park, where we could walk out into the wilderness whenever we wanted. What a gorgeous place!

    Enjoy the rest of your summer, Bruce. 🙂

    [Reply]

    Comment by Bruce Rufer — July 22, 2016 @ 12:24 pm

  7. Oh how I love to see Alaska through your photography. Please keep them coming. Oh by the way, post lots of pictures of Juliet! There is nothing like having grandchildren! I am blessed with 3 year old twins. They are the light of my life.

    [Reply]

    Susan Stevenson Reply:

    Hi Jill and thanks for commenting. Sorry for taking so long to respond. It’s nice to be back in AK, but I sure do miss my baby granddaughter!!

    I’ve updating my blog to include photos and commentary from the little summer I did have to enjoy here. I will post an update with photos of Juliet soon.

    But this weekend… Denali Road Lottery! So excited!

    [Reply]

    Comment by Jill LaCoss — August 19, 2016 @ 6:16 am

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